Saturday, December 31, 2005

a life in review

There's a whole lot reflecting going on in the blogosphere this week. The majority of people are assessing and good-byeing 2005. I briefly entertained the idea of jumping on that bandwagon and giving you my year in review. But then I thought, Why stop there?

So here, in a nutshell, is a life in review.

I knew He was there before I knew what to call Him. In deep pockets of memory, I hold visions that are hard to put to words; fleeting moments when I first heard those whispers, first understood that Something I couldn't see or place knew me, and was calling my name.

Normal didn't live in my home, or even stop to visit. I existed--for the most part--in a whirlwind of drunken outbursts and stormy encounters. I switched homes and states and fathers, observed the late sixties and early seventies, said good bye to Father Two and a home in the South, scowled when my mother traded in Father Three for a motorcycle, love beads and go-go boots, and kept reaching for the owner of that nameless voice. A street girl my mother befriended moved into my bedroom and brought me my first glimpse of God. Through her witness, I met Him on Thanksgiving night, the year I turned twelve, just as the clock reached midnight.

We attended a church that wasn't much interested in things of God. I joined a carnal youth group, where flesh was enthroned and Jesus was allowed nothing more than a brief reference or two once a year at the annual youth retreat. My flickering faith barely survived those malnourished years.

I entered high school, and though everything on the outside looked pristine--I played tennis, joined the debate team, honor society, and girls club--to a knowing eye, I was just another sheep so starved you could count my ribs. No God-life flowed through me. His hand was ever-extended to take mine, but I was too busy looking for love with skin on it to bother accepting that divine invitation.

At graduation, I stood at a podium and addressed my class of 400+, then threw my hat to the sky with the rest of my peers and asked God to give me my privacy while I turned and ran head-on into rebellion. He said no. While I was busy sinning, I'd catch glimpses of Him from a distance, watching me, waiting. The sight never failed to unsettle me.

It wasn't until I turned twenty--after enduring two years of stark ugliness--that I gave up and reached, finally, for that outstretched hand. And when I did, I discovered that everything I'd ever looked for in skin-covered form had been waiting for me in His touch. I began to walk. I began to understand God's heart in the pages of a book that had been there all along, waiting for my eyes. I began to fall in love with the Savior who had watched me so patiently and never stopped whispering, even when I'd been desperate to ignore the sound.

We didn't walk into the sunset. That part is yet to come. Instead, I made mistake after mistake. I willfully sinned. I can't even count the number of dreadful mistakes I've made since I placed my hand in His. And yet ... He has never once made me pay. Whenever I come to Him with my head down and my heart heavy, He lifts my chin with a tender touch and reminds me of the length of His love. He has never denied forgiveness. He has never once demanded a pound of flesh for my infractions. Though I could easily rival Paul as the "chief of sinners"--and I mean that down to my toes--I've never received any other response from God but kindness. Despite my lengthy list of faults, He has poured repeated blessings on me, covered my flaws and errors and blatant sins, opened the door of Grace wide and beckoned me--time after time and again--to come inside and warm myself. When I have least deserved it, He's held me close and calmed my heart and bandaged all my self-inflicted wounds. And all that without a single angry or disappointed word. It seems His rebuke, His disgust, His wrath was all spent on Jesus.

So there you have my life in review. I am a sinner saved by grace--loved, held, protected, encouraged, nurtured. I have failed God a hundred thousand times this year, and the year before, and the years before that. But He's never failed me once. Not once.

Here's to a new year. May God have His place of honor in our lives; may He be glorified in all we do.

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23 Comment:

At 12/31/2005 8:30 AM, Anonymous jaelj had this to say ...

Thank You..

At 12/31/2005 10:09 AM, Blogger steve had this to say ...

I love your heart for God Shannon!

May the Lord bless you this New Year!!

At 12/31/2005 10:51 AM, Blogger Vicki had this to say ...

Well, I just cried all the way through your post, but it's okay. My life is on these pages too because I know I've failed ten thousand times and more. But praise God, He has never failed me.

Your writing moves me deeply. I wish I could write more like you--what a gift! God bless you with sweet surprises in 2006.

love you bunches,

At 12/31/2005 10:55 AM, Anonymous Lauren had this to say ...

Amen and Amen!

At 12/31/2005 3:04 PM, Blogger ddddddddddddddddddddd had this to say ...

Happy New Year Shannon.

Here's to 2006 being full of joy, happiness and personal success.

Hugs, love and prayers,

Keep smilin'

At 12/31/2005 3:58 PM, Blogger Macromoments had this to say ...

Shannon, I'm speechless.
What a beautiful post. So transparent. It's no wonder God is blessing your writing and your ministry.

At 1/01/2006 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Shannon, thank you for writing for those of us without the words, without the courage and with far too much pride.

God bless you in new and greater ways in 2006.

At 1/01/2006 7:27 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Thank you for the visit, Jaelj :)

And thank you for the blessing, Steve!

Joe, I tried to comment on your blog, but AGAIN it won't let me. Don't know what's happening there. I wanted to say I'm so glad about you and Carol. I pray you two are very happy together!

Vicki, you blessed me. So did you, Bonnie ... and you, Tim. Thank you so much for those undeserved words. :)

May you all be overwhelmed by God in this new year!

At 1/01/2006 7:38 PM, Blogger Jimmy had this to say ...

Shannon, it would be so encouraging and inspiring if we all could do our lives in review as you have so beautifully done. It would be good to realize that we have all travelled different paths and have had different experiences, but the beautiful thing is that the same God that stretched His all-loving Hand to you is the same God that reached out to me and all others. And despite what I did today or will do tomorrow which may cause Him sorrow, that Hand will still be holding me, and you, and Vicki, and Nancy, and Joe and all the others who are a part up in this blogworld. Praise His name for what lies ahead in 2006! May it be the best for you, Dave, Zac and Tera!

At 1/02/2006 8:24 AM, Blogger Hikingalong had this to say ...

What a beautiful post! God has truly gifted you with words that inspire. Thank you for sharing this.

At 1/02/2006 6:22 PM, Blogger BayouMaMa2 had this to say ...

Ah...you had some of those rebellious years also? What were we thinking back then?

As for me, it was a year of famine and disgrace...but praise God that He was faithful, even when I was not! He has truly restored what the locust had eaten!

You, my dear, express yourself so transparently...I was deeply moved by your words. So glad to know we're in the same flock following the Good Shepherd. I guess for many of us, we've been sheep #100 at one time or another,

At 1/02/2006 6:41 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Jimmy, I too am awed at the breadth and length of God's arm. I think of how individual and personal He is with each one of us, and yet He's repeating that tender wooing with thousands and thousands simultaneously, and the knowledge of that just floors me. I'm so glad He put us on paths that would eventually cross, Jimmy.

That goes for the two of you as well, Berrymom and BayouMama (and I just love that you two came in one right after the other. Saying your two names together makes me smile. :) You both blessed me with your comments. BayouMama, something about your words made me cry. I think it's the thought of all of us being in the same flock together. Chances are, most of us won't meet until heaven, but I'm sure glad to know I'll have faces to put to these names eventually!

Bless you!

At 1/02/2006 7:53 PM, Blogger k8 had this to say ...

love that memorything. reminds me alot of my life too.

god bless and keep


At 1/03/2006 1:21 PM, Blogger BHGA had this to say ...

Your words have moved me deeply through this post....and thank you for speaking to my heart today through your comments on my blog....God bless
you always


At 1/04/2006 7:54 AM, Blogger 9W6VX had this to say ...

Thank you for dropping by to my blog. My site meter statistics allows me to view who visited my blog and out of curoisity I decided to check out your blog.

You have a wonderful gift for words and the music was indeed soothing and beautiful.

I must confess that I'm not a practising Christian now but I feel what you wrote.

God Bless You.

At 1/04/2006 3:38 PM, Blogger Paula had this to say ...

I believe it was a "God thing" that I read your post. You needed to write it just for me and my husband. You know one of our children moved to live with her mom and our hearts have been broken. We are healing and it's good to know that she might be a sheep who's starving, but she's still a sheep. Thank you for sharing a beautiful testimony and giving these two parents hope. I'm glad we're sisters in Christ.

At 1/04/2006 4:58 PM, Blogger Lynetta had this to say ...

What a beautiful post! Reading your testimony has blessed me more than I can say. Thank you for sharing it. Blessings for you in 2006!

At 1/05/2006 4:44 AM, Blogger My Kid's Mom had this to say ...

Hi Shannon: This post could have been written by me, as I went through those hard years of rebellion myself. What a beautiful testimony to God's forgiveness and ever-constant presence in our lives.

At 1/05/2006 6:05 AM, Blogger Paul had this to say ...

Hi Shannon,

Just wanted to say what a blessing it is to have come across your blog. It indeed is a blessing and a real source of encouragement.

I so appreciate your website also, the quotes. The one thing that the Lord has taught me over the last three years, is that He wanted me to write from the Heart, coffee cup conversation, is what I call it.

It is good to see my friends, Vicki, Donna and Paula, linked here. I know they will be encouraged, as I have been encouraged and I look forward to getting your book also, for that which you share applies to all hearts.

Paula and Bill, are very special to me, known them a little more than a year now. I know that you were an encouragement to them.

I attend Calvary Chapel in Marietta, Ga, spend a lot of time in Starbucks, lots of opportunties to meet people, to listen, to encourage others, again, coffee cup ministry :)

In a nutshell, since February 2003, I went through Chemo and Radiation, to major surgeries, and a divorce after 29 years, not by choice and out of what the enemy meant to use to destroy, out of the ashes Hill Country Thoughts was birthed, and all the enemy suceeded in doing is pushing me in closer to the Lord.

My former wife and I have have three wonder children, who are on fire for the Lord and for that I am so thankful and blessed.

As far as Jodie and I, the final chapter as not been written, and when it is, the Lord will still be glorified, because God's plans are good plans, even if we are not brought back togehter.

Indeed Our Lord never fails, never leaves us, never forsakes and as you shared, He will never unlove us!

I have added you to my favorite reads, is that ok?

Be blessed and may the Lord bless you and your family!!

Writing for the King,


At 1/05/2006 6:23 AM, Anonymous Pam D. had this to say ...

Hi Shannon,
This has nothing to do with a particular post, but yesterday I was watching a Christian talk program and saw a man talking about establishing a national "ten commmandments day" on May 7. He was urging us to take a stand as Christians and to let other believers know about it. I thought of you and just thought I'd send you the site if you wanted to check out more -- tencommandmentsday.com. He talked a lot about how we need to stand up for the Lord in these times more than ever, and I know you believe that too... ;)

At 1/05/2006 5:07 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Hello K8,
I think we probably all have much more in common than we realize. God bless you--and thanks for visiting. And by the way--your girls are gorgeous. :)

Donna, that's always my prayer. Thanks so much for visiting.

Dave's telling me we need to leave for worship practice in two minutes. I'll have to come back for the rest ...

At 1/05/2006 8:05 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

I'm back. Practice was great. :)

God bless you, too, 9w6vx--I'm so glad you came to visit. Hope you come again.

Paula, I'm glad we're sisters in the Lord too. I am praying for your daughter. Please keep me posted as to what happens. And yes--God keeps a close watch on those starving sheep. Once they get hungry enough, they usually remember where to turn.

Lynetta, it's so nice to meet you. And I see that we're practically neighbors! We love the Newport area and always stay at the KOA there. Next time, you and I will have to meet at the beach ... or that little bakery across the bridge. :) God bless you too!

Hello there, "my kid's mom." I guess you and I are in the same boat with K8 up there. :) Isn't it amazing what God can do with a broken life? By the way, your blog is wonderful. I'm so glad to see one that addresses adoption. Both of mine are adopted, and I couldn't imagine my life without them. Bless you!

Hello, brother Paul! So nice to cross paths with you. Thank you for your kind words. It's nice to know we have so many friends in common--and Calvary Chapel, too. I'm so sorry for the tough stretch of road you've traveled lately, but I knod will work some tremendous growth in you because of it. Those lessons are likely spilling all over your blog. You seem like someone who would make sure that He received the honor due Him for pulling you through. Thanks for the link--I've linked to you as well. God bless you!

Pam, I'll have to take a look at that. Thanks for thinking of me. Hope you're doing well!

At 1/08/2006 7:14 PM, Blogger Darlene had this to say ...


That was a wonderful post, and I wish I had been by earlier to read it. Michael and I were taking a vacation, so I was spending much time with him.

You make me want to put my own testimony to words. I separated myself from God for a long time because of willfull sin. The guilt of sin can be an overwhelming shame. I love that you shared that part of it.


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